Football

No trophies, no problem: Hill’s play speaking for itself

Holton Hill (Will Gallagher/IT)
Holton Hill (Will Gallagher/IT)

A short internet search of the term “Holton Hill NFL Draft” yields surprisingly few results. There are a couple of stories from local outlets that provide short summaries of Hill’s stellar play in 2018.

One of the first page results has “2019 NFL Draft” in the title, but with the way the junior corner is playing, that may need to be moved up a year.

Hill is second among Longhorns in interceptions with two, both of them returned for touchdowns. Hill also added a non-offensive touchdown in week one’s loss against Maryland when he returned a blocked field goal for a score. He is second behind Malik Jefferson for the team lead in tackles.

In addition, Hill has played against some of the best receivers in the nation. Just this past week, he limited Oklahoma State’s James Washington to just 32 receiving yards, almost 100 yards less than his season average.

Despite all of this outstanding play, Hill went unrecognized when the Jim Thorpe Award left him off its recently announced list of semi-finalists. Fellow Texas defensive back DeShon Elliott was named a semi-finalist.

It might be a disappointment to fans that the junior from Houston was not honored, but Hill is not bothered by it.

“To me, that’s just extra,” Hill said on Tuesday. “I go out there to help my team win, and anything that comes with it is extra. As long as we as a defense and we as a secondary unit do our assignments and make our plays, that’s our main focus.”

Hill might have been snubbed from the list that his teammate made because teams have decided not to test him. “Teams just weren’t throwing at me for a few games,” Hill noted.

Even with all those varying circumstances, Hill knows he has the ability to play with great effort. It beats last year when instead of other teams not throwing at him, Hill was simply on the bench. With all the playing time this year, Hill is making the most of each snap.

“I’m always preaching to myself about going hard,” Hill said. “Going from high school and making plays in high school to the collegiate level, I really just worked hard and was real competitive within everything I did. It doesn’t matter whether it was finding the remote faster than my cousin. No matter what it was, I was competitive with it. That helped me out a lot.”

Hill’s breakout season has caught the eyes of his teammates as well.

“To see him grow as a young man and see (him and Elliott) competing against each other is awesome,” Malik Jefferson said. “You kind of never see that on a good defense. It’s normally just one guy that sticks out. To have multiple guys stick out on the defense is really important. To see them actually competing and who’s going to throw the ball their way or who’s going to make the most tackles is pretty cool seeing that as a player on the team.”

Holton Hill. (Will Gallagher/IT)
Holton Hill. (Will Gallagher/IT)

Jefferson did not question his teammate’s ability, but he did question Hill’s claim of having better dreadlocks.

“I think mine,” Hill said when asked to compare the two. “It’s just because it’s on me. I like mine.”

“I don’t know about that one!” Jefferson replied, waiting for his own time with the media.

Hill said he had very simple goals related to not giving up many touchdowns or even receptions. Pair that with his work ethic and talent, and Texas has a corner who loves to show off his skill at every chance.

“We as a defensive unit love every chance we get to get out on the field, no matter the situation,” Hill said. “It gives us another opportunity to make a play.”